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Old 11-21-2013, 07:49 PM   #11
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That's true, dap. How many people do you know who do it properly, cleaning the feeders thoroughly and frequently? I was really shocked to read earlier this year how much avian diseases have spread via the feeders. It's clearly a bigger issue than not attracting non-native birds. And one not given adequate thought to protect the birds. I do not know the answer.
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Old 11-21-2013, 08:51 PM   #12
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That's true, dap. How many people do you know who do it properly, cleaning the feeders thoroughly and frequently? I was really shocked to read earlier this year how much avian diseases have spread via the feeders. It's clearly a bigger issue than not attracting non-native birds. And one not given adequate thought to protect the birds. I do not know the answer.
I think it is not given enough press...people love seeing birds in winter...me among them (I like seeing them year round, too, of course).

I fear the answer is not to feed them...well, not in the traditional way anyway. I'd love to plant enough natives to keep attracting birds throughout the winter, but I'm not sure it is possible--once an area is depleted of food sources, they will move on (birds would not naturally congregate in such a small area and interact as much as they do at feeding stations.

I'd love to plant enough sunflower seeds, that I could harvest the stalks with seedheads attached, and store some to be brought out throughout the season. At least hat way they'd be perching on different stalks each time a fresh one was added...but they'd still be congregating in the same yard.

At the same time, with degraded habitat, I wonder if they really do need our proffered food to help them through the winter.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:39 AM   #13
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I've found that only native birds can handle whole peanuts in the shell. This will attract grackles, though. I've also noticed that mostly natives only go for freeze dried mealworms (they are expensive, though, so I only bit out a tiny bit every day).

Also, if you leave a lot of old seed heads around on plants the natives can hang and eat from them, while sparrows and starlings are too clumsy.
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Old 11-22-2013, 03:27 PM   #14
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Cleaning is essential! I run my squirrelbuster mini thorugh the dishwasher every three or four days, and I scrub my hanging platform feeder with dish soap daily. I also scrub my birdbath daily.
It's a relaxing routine for me at the end of the day.

-Andrew
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Old 11-22-2013, 06:08 PM   #15
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I've found that only native birds can handle whole peanuts in the shell.
I didn't know that.

...and I'm okay with grackles. I bet blue jays would love them too.

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Also, if you leave a lot of old seed heads around on plants the natives can hang and eat from them, while sparrows and starlings are too clumsy.
Another good reason to grow tons and tons of natives! I have seen at least chickadees, titmice, and goldfinches hang upside down from my sunflower seed heads.

I'm hoping to get my meadow well on its way over the next few years, and I also want to try to grow more sunflowers in the meantime. I consider them a food crop...maybe once my natives are established, I'll revisit the idea.
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:36 AM   #16
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I only have a heated birdbath out for the winter now.
I stopped feeding last year because none of the tube feeders I had were really easy to clean throughly.
Does anyone have a suggestion for a feeder that is really easy to clean without a dishwasher?
What about suet feeders?
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:17 AM   #17
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Blackbirds...like grackles and red winged blackbirds are native birds. Redwings are a favorite of mine.

I put out pretty much only black oil sunflower seeds to keep undesirables away...I rarely see house sparrows or European starlings...and on the rare occasions they do stop at my feeding stations, they never seem to stay.
Dap, our house sparrows have adapted. They eat all the black oil sunflower they can get.
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Old 11-27-2013, 11:44 AM   #18
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I like using flat platform feeders willo. They are very easy to clean. The ground feeders like that type of feeder. I put only safflower and grey striped sunflower seed in them so I never get flocks of house sparrows or blackbirds. I hang the platform feeders. One is wire mesh and the other is plastic mesh.
I bought cheap seed and have been putting it on fence posts hoping to lure house sparrows to make them an easy target for hawks. So far the only thing eating that seed is crows.
I think plant seeds are the best way to feed birds Helianthus. Its fun watching them go after the plant seeds. When I converted my back yard to woods I had a lot of lawn grass produce seed until it became shaded by the plants. I had indigo buntings hanging around to eat that grass seed.
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Old 11-27-2013, 01:39 PM   #19
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Here's a picture of Indigo Buntings eating grass seed that I took several years ago. This year I was surprised at how eagerly the Gold Finches were eating Cone flower seeds. I found that the only way to keep house sparrows from eating all the seeds is to catch them and dispose of them. For the ground feeders I throw millet, nyger, saffflower seed and cheap seed mix on the ground. The black oil sunfloweer seed goes in squirrel proof feeders. Flocks of mixed blackbirds will empty the platform feeders and seed on the ground very fast. Now I wait until dusk to throw seed seed on the ground, after the flocks of blackbirds and house sparrows have left. That way the Song Sparrows, Cardinals, and White Throated Sparrows have a chance to feed before sunset and at sunrise. I also usually build up a large flock of mourning doves, which pleases me. I also get Juncos and House Finches, but no Titmice or Chickadees. 35 years in this house and not one stinking Chickadee or Titmouse yet. Is that asking too much?
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:51 PM   #20
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Those indigo buntings really like grass seed! I haven't had them here in years. I like mourning doves too. Mine have not been around lately. That is strange that you don't have chickadees and titmice arey. They do seem to like to hang out together. Sometimes when my feeders are empty the chickadees gather around me chattering waiting for me to put seed out
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